Bicol records 47 new HIV/AIDS cases this year; highest since 1984

LEGAZPI CITY, August 12 -- A total of 47 new cases of the Human Immuno Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS) were reported in the Bicol region from January to May this year, the highest number since the first case was reported in the country 32 years ago, said the Department of Health (DOH).

World AIDS Day 2015 in Naga City
BICOLSTANDARD.COM File Photo by Oscar Esmenda

“This was the highest number since the Philippines' first case in 1984,” according to the Department of Health (DOH) Philippine HIV and AIDS registry.

From 1984 to the present, a total of 422 cases were recorded, 83 of them have AIDS while 339 were “asymptomatic.”

Asymptomatic means the virus is present in the body but there is no symptom of any infection.

In the Bicol region, the 422 cases recorded from 1984 to the present, by province, showed that Camarines Sur has 155 cases, Albay-129, Sorsogon-54, Masbate-40, Camarines Norte-28, Catanduanes-15, and from an undisclosed Bicol province -1

In terms of cases by sex, the report showed that 47 were female and 375 were male. The mode of transmission of the virus also showed that 184 of them were homosexual, 133-male bisexual, 101-heterosexual and 4 of of unknown gender.

During the same period it was noted that there were 56 HIV/AIDS cases among Overseas Filipino Workers in the Bicol region.

Dr. Napoleon Arevalo, director of Department of Health-Bicol, recently urged local government units and local partners to take the necessary action to prevent spread of the infection in the region.

He said the local AIDS Council should become “operational” and each local government unit (LGU) should allot a budget for a prevention and control program for HIV/AIDS.

In Bicol, the cities of Tabaco, Legazpi and the municipality of Daraga, all in Albay and Naga City in Camarines Sur are the LGUs which have an operational local AIDS Council.

Meanwhile, the Albay AIDS Council program management has stopped operation on June 30, 2016 when Gov. Al Francis Bichara took over from the previous administration.

The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Bicol region has expressed alarm over the increasing number of bisexuals and gays infected with HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

Gayon Albay, an LGBT community-based organization here, announced that massive information and outreach activities are being conducted throughout the region.

Toots Rivac, Gayon Albay director, said that regular community outreach and school-based information and education were being conducted that include condom distribution to identified high-risk groups.

The organization has asked all local government units to comply with a memorandum from the Department of Interior and Local Government directing LGUs to establish their aids response at the local level.

The Department of Budget and Management here also issued a “local budget memo” requiring LGUs to allocate a budget for the HIV/AIDS program.

(By Mike de la Rama, PNA)